Pro-Life Attorneys File Brief on Behalf of Disability Rights Groups, Urge US Supreme Court to Grant Cert in Case Involving 20-Week Abortion Ban

October 30, 2013: Today, Life Legal Defense Foundation joined the Bioethics Defense Fund in submitting an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to grant review in the case Horne v. Isaacson. The case involves an Arizona law banning abortions after 20 weeks gestational age, except when necessary to avoid death or serious health risk to the mother. The law was challenged by late-term abortion providers and was eventually struck down by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this year.

The brief was filed on behalf of three disability rights organizations that provide support and advocacy for persons with disabilities such as Down Syndrome. It specifically addresses the argument that abortion after 20 weeks is necessary to preserve the right to terminate a pregnancy for fetal anomaly. It urges the Court to take this opportunity to clarify that there is no constitutional right to abort children because they have been diagnosed with a disability. Citing studies that show the alarming rate at which children prenatally diagnosed with disability are aborted, the brief highlights the legitimate state interest in granting equal treatment to unborn children, whether or not they have a disability.

Prior Supreme Court decisions have framed the right to an abortion in terms of a woman’s right to decide not to have a child at that point in her life. The brief notes, “This Court has never framed the protected abortion decision as whether to bear or abort a particular child based on identified traits of genetic variation, disability, or other health condition.” (See page 18.)

“While abortion is itself a grave moral evil, abortion of an unborn child merely because of some physical or mental disability raises a host of additional ethical issues” comments Dana Cody, LLDF’s President and Executive Director. “We devalue the disabled among us with the attitude that he or she should not have been born, and as studies show, this prenatal discrimination has a devastating impact. Women and families faced with a diagnosis of fetal anomaly should receive love and support, not a message of despair.”

The brief argues that preventing eugenic abortion is a legitimate state interest and one that will help to forestall acceptance of eugenic infanticide. Additionally, the brief argues that the state of Arizona is furthering its legitimate interest in preserving the integrity and ethics of the medical profession from the harm caused by the practice of eugenic decision making.

Read the full brief here.